Some twenty minutes later a man lounged into the bar and called for something to drink. He seemed to suspect nothing, he appeared to be perfectly at his ease. He whist
led some music-hall air merrily. The man was fairly well-dressed. A gaudy cap on the back of his head disclosed a plaster of greasy curls on a peculiarly low and retrea
ting forehead. The stranger might have been a street hawker in his best clothes. Certainly he did not suggest a professional criminal.
He swallowed his drink and str
olled towards the fireplace without noticing the three occupants in the recesses of the box. Then he caught sight of Stevens, and took a seat by his side. The conversat
ion was conducted in whispers, but it was possible for the listeners to hear most of what was taking place.
"Well, did you manage it all right?" the newcomer asked.
"Don't trouble about that," Stevens muttered. "But I didn't get half as much as you thought I should. Forty pounds was the price my man offered, and he wouldn't give
The newcomer growled something incoh
erent. Then there was a chink of money stealthily passed
, followed by a volley of oaths from Stevens' companion.